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Questions to ask new SEO clients

When new business contacts get in touch I’m always interested in the how and the why. As Head of Operations, I’m the guy potential clients who are looking for SEO advice speak to for the first time. I receive a lot of enquiries via email, which is fine, but I prefer the phone. It’s much more personable and easier to get a real understanding if Verve Search is the right agency to work with them and/or if their business fits with the services we have to offer. To that end, here are my five top questions to ask new clients.

Question #1 – Who are you? What is your business all about?

Sounds obvious, but I need to find out what a business is all about and how it differs from other competitors. It’s important for me to understand which industry a client is in and quickly see where they fit into the mix of other companies in the same field.

For example: A business that offers a ‘domestic oven cleaning service’ which is a local search term. Google local is going to be huge for this business and it’ll need a lot of business to make our service work. We often look at a business model and look at the market they are trying to penetrate. Will they make your investment back in the period of the contract? If the answer is no, then we’ll advise them to rethink their investments.

Question #2 – What made you get in touch with us today?

This is a very open question, but can lead on to what people think SEO is. Many people think we just work on getting your traffic up. That’s it. End of. They couldn’t be more wrong. We don’t just look at traffic, we look at a business and ask what it’s all about, how it works and what you think an SEO company does. (Believe me, I get some hilarious answers mostly beginning with ‘ahhh, erm, uhhh’). Traffic can be part of the mix, but conversions are more interesting to us, because that leads to sales and sales is what actually drives your business forward.

Question #3 – What’s the structure of your company?

I gain an insightful knowledge of a company’s history and employee numbers. Some companies may have their own in-house developers and content writers. I can quickly form an idea of how Verve Search can fit in to the business and if there’s room for us to make an impact. I can also gain an insight into what SEO experience they have and what advice they’ve been given before. It still pains me to say that there are some truly awful SEO companies out there doing really dreadful things to websites just to make a quick buck. I recently reviewed an ecommerce site that had a neat 1000 backlinks in exact match anchor text to their product pages, i.e ‘Men’s Brown Suede Jacket’ all pointing to the (surprise surprise) ‘Men’s Brown Suede Jacket’ page, and every link was low quality spam. How they had avoided a penalty was anyone’s guess!

Question #5 – What are your specific goals for an SEO Outcome?

Sell more widgets is the short answer to this one. The longer one is to increase site visibility and help with both customer retention and conversions. What people really want is to increase sales online as soon as possible, which is understandable, but there is a complex mix of things to make sure all the elements are in place to achieve the goal. Some companies will still want to be number one for a particular term. The problem with that is there are three parties involved in SEO: you, me and the search engines. The latter changes and morphs on a weekly basis. Chasing the biggest term in your industry is not as wise as identifying a number of longer tail terms that will be better for conversions and keyword reach.

Example: You want to rank for a key phrase like ‘commercial lawyers’, but when you drill down into that term you’d be better off looking at ‘commercial lawyers London’ or ‘Commercial property lawyers London’. You want to rank for terms that are more akin to the actual service that someone will be searching for on their second or third search. The first short term might have the big volume but it won’t have the conversion of the longer tail terms.

Question #5 – What’s your budget?

If I have done my job right I usually don’t have to know the budget you have. I should be able to tell you what you need to spend in order to achieve your goals. Budgets are tricky because the nature of the web is always in flux so predictions and forecasts of what is needed at one point in time can change depending on a myriad of factors. Having said that, you should be under no illusion that we work extremely hard at justifying and forecasting the work that’s warranted to make all your SEO dreams come true.

If you want to talk to me about your SEO dream, pick up the phone and call me. I, along with the Verve Search Team, will wrangle your wishes into a stark reality.


Image credit Billy Brown 



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